Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will lead the investigation into the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, a Black motorist who was shot and killed in Brooklyn Center by a white officer, Kim Potter, at the height of racial tension surrounding the Derek Chauvin murder trial.
Activists have pushed for either an independent prosecutor or Ellison’s office to overtake the investigation after the conviction of Chauvin, a case Ellison spearheaded as attorney general.
The case was first assigned to Washington County Attorney Peter Orput over Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. Prior to Ellison’s office overseeing the case, demonstrators protested outside of Orput’s home in an effort to see Potter prosecuted on an elevated charge of murder. Potter was indicted on second-degree manslaughter and will stand trial in December.
Wright was shot and killed on April 11, 2021 during a traffic stop. His death continued the heartbreaking narrative of Black community members who were murdered during interactions with law enforcement. Further anger ignited around Wright’s case after law enforcement officials dismissed his death as a mistake, alleging that Potter confused her gun for a taser during the encounter.
“Daunte Wright was a son, a brother, a father, a friend,” Ellison said in a statement Friday. “When he died, he was only 20 years old. He had his whole life ahead of him.”
“I did not seek this prosecution and do not accept it lightly. I have had, and continue to have, confidence in how both County Attorney Orput and County Attorney Freeman have handled this case to date. I thank County Attorney Orput for the solid work he and his office have done, and I thank County Attorney Freeman once again for his confidence in my office. I appreciate their partnership as my office takes the lead on this case,” Ellison continued.
The case’s transfer to Elliott’s office elicited a positive response from Brooklyn Center city leadership who also initially backed Ellison’s overseeing of the case.
“Ellison and his team successfully convicted Derek Chauvin to the fullest degree in the landmark George Floyd murder trial,” Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot said according to the Minnesota Reformer. “I wanted to see this same level of prosecution in Daunte’s case. His family, friends and our community deserve it.”
Freeman’s office is expected to provide staffing to Ellison’s prosecution team. It is unclear whether Ellison’s team will upgrade Potter’s charges at the urging of demonstrators, Wright’s family and supporters.
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